Updated: Feb 2
Being prompted to update your software on a regular basis can be an annoyance even to some of the most patient of people however, that is because the tremendous benefits are simply not recognised. If more people were to recognise the importance of these updates, we would live in a much safer cyber environment today. The main benefits of a software update are:
Other general improvements usually provided off the back of user feedback
The above benefits are great so why is it that some businesses are on outdated software builds and refuse to update. Even more critically, why are there so many end users that just will not update their devices and software? Well the below disadvantages are some of the main reasons:
Potential business expense
Wouldn't it be ideal if you could take advantage of the benefits without the disadvantages being of any worry? Well this is where the methodology of completing a software update comes into play. With tools like WSUS, organisations are able to update their systems in a risk free manner. They can do so by reviewing the release notes and publishing the updates to a certain group of individuals which are "guinea pigs". This will then allow the IT teams to gather any feedback on the new update with regards to any issues where they can then decide if it is safe to publish the update organisation wide. The guinea pig stage could be anywhere from one week to one month but a one month delay is better than no update at all.
Third party tools are widely available to handle updates across multiple platforms and they are well worth the investment. If you do not update devices in a controlled manner then you could run into downtime and actually cause a bigger problem than if you were to skip the update.
Now we have established that updates can cause downtime and require some effort to get right, what's the point? Well the main reason is for vulnerability patches, hackers are always prowling on large vendors looking for any vulnerabilities their software has so they can attack their clients. This means that the second a vulnerability is published, your software is at risk of being hacked. With that being said, it is not just an open field for hackers as most organisations have preventative measures in place behind the software such as secure firewalls, anti-virus etc.
If your organisation already has security flaws which you are unaware of then a software vulnerability could well mean an open field for a hacker, you might as well just give them your admin passwords. We have seen this with the likes of the NHS who failed to secure their network and update their software which allowed for them to be a victim of the wannacry attack along with thousands more businesses. Organisations have to realise that the most easily overlooked things such as software updates are a hackers most searched for holes in your security because it's just too easy for them.
With software vulnerabilities out the way we can move onto bug fixes, increased performance and general improvements. These three benefits are fairly small in comparison but can improve the efficiency of your business by a mile. Software vendors are constantly reviewing bug reports, performance reports and customer feedback in order to continuously improve their software, a famous example would be Microsoft's patch Tuesday. With bug fixes in place, this stops disruption such as software crashing and actually works hand in hand with performance improvements. Bugs cause software to run slow, crash and behave unexpectedly so removing the bugs automatically increases performance of the software which automatically increases the performance of your workforce.
The general user feedback given can help software vendors improve the efficiency of their software for example, a user could have to go through 10 clicks to get to a critical function of the software, multiple users would complain, the vendor may then add a shortcut. By default, these small improvements overtime all add up to a more effective and efficient workforce so while you may have to do some research and testing for an update, the benefits are well worth it even if you have to pay.
If this article has left you feeling a bit uneasy about your existing environment, allow me and my team to help you out. If you contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns, we can let you know how we can help you or suggest that one of our partners assists if we cannot.